How to Remove Sticker Residue From Upholstery

Apply vinegar directly on upholstery stain

​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 20 mins
  • Total Time: 10 mins - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5-10

Sticker residue on upholstery can be left by kids being "creative" or sales tags. Whatever the cause, the residue leaves a gummy, sticky coating that attracts soil, dust, and hair to the fabric.

You can remove sticker residue easily from most upholstery with just a few cleaning products. Read on to discover how.

Stain Type Resin-based
Detergent Type Upholstery cleaner, distilled white vinegar, dry cleaning solvent
Water Temperature Cold

Before You Begin

Before you tackle the sticker residue, it is important to know what kind of upholstery is covering your piece of furniture. Since 1969, furniture manufacturers have added a tag to help you determine the best and safest way to clean upholstery. Look for the tag underneath the chair or cushion and follow the cleaning guidelines for the code.

  • Code W: Fabric can be cleaned with water-based cleaning solvents.
  • Code S: Use only a dry cleaning or water-free solvent to remove stains and soils from the upholstery. The use of these chemicals requires a well-ventilated room and no open flames like fireplaces or candles.
  • Code W-S: The upholstery can be cleaned with either water-based or solvent-based products.
  • Code X: This fabric should only be cleaned by vacuuming or by a professional. Any type of home cleaning product can cause staining and shrinking.

If there is no tag, you should test the different cleaning solutions in an inconspicuous area under a cushion or fabric skirt to see how the fabric reacts when treated. If the fabric is vintage or silk and there is no tag, consult a professional upholstery cleaning service.

If the furniture is upholstered in leather, use a leather cleaner and conditioner carefully following the directions on the product.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 vacuum with upholstery brush attachment
  • 1 to 2 microfiber cloths
  • 1 microwave
  • 1 small glass bowl

Materials

  • 1 bottle distilled white vinegar
  • 1 container upholstery cleaner
  • 1 container dry cleaning solvent

Instructions

How to Remove Sticker Residue From Washable Upholstery

If the sticker is on an upholstery fabric that is labeled W or W-S, it and the residue can usually be removed with just heated distilled white vinegar.

  1. Remove the Sticker

    Peel away as much of the sticker as possible from the upholstery. Do not use any type of sharp implement to gouge the fabric. Work slowly and use a fingernail or the edge of a credit card to loosen the sticker.

  2. Warm the Distilled White Vinegar

    Pour one-half cup of distilled white vinegar into a small microwavable bowl. Heat in a microwave on high for about 20 seconds or until it is warm but not boiling.

  3. Apply the Vinegar

    Dip a lint-free microfiber cloth in the warm vinegar and dab it directly onto the sticky residue. Work from the outside edges of the stain toward the center to prevent it from getting larger. Take care not to oversaturate the fabric because excess moisture in the cushion filling can be a problem.

    Apply vinegar directly on upholstery stain
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. Blot the Stain

    Use a dry microfiber towel to blot away the vinegar, moving to a clean area of the towel as the glue is transferred.

    Blot upholstery stain
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. Allow the Upholstery to Dry

    Once you feel that sticky residue is gone, allow the upholstery to air-dry away from direct sunlight or a heat source. This can take up to a couple of hours. The vinegar odor will dissipate as the fabric dries.

    If residue remains, repeat the steps with some freshly warmed vinegar or try a commercial upholstery cleaner. Follow the directions carefully on the commercial product.

How to Remove Sticker Residue From Dry Clean Only Upholstery

If the sticker residue is on a fabric labeled S, use a dry cleaning or water-free solvent only to remove stains, following these steps.

  1. Remove the Sticker

    Gently peel the sticker away from the upholstery. Use only your fingernail or the edge of an old credit card to lift the edges to prevent harming the upholstery.

  2. Apply the Solvent

    Follow the product directions for applying the dry cleaning solvent and test it first in a hidden area to make sure that it does not change the color of the upholstery. Use a microfiber cloth to apply the product working from the outside edge of the sticky residue toward the center.

    Warning

    Because dry cleaning solvent contains volatile chemicals, it should not be used in any space with an open flame like cigarettes, a lit candle, a wood-burning fireplace in operation, or gas appliances. Do not use it around any heated surfaces like electric heaters, stovetops, or electric heating pads or blankets. Increase the ventilation in the room by opening windows and doors or using a circulating fan to help disperse the fumes.

  3. Blot and Air-Dry

    Use a clean, dry cloth to blot away as much of the solvent as possible from the fabric. Dip another white cloth in plain water and wring it until it is not dripping. Blot the freshly cleaned area to remove the final traces of the solvent. Allow the fabric to air-dry away from direct heat or sunlight.

    If traces of residue remain after the fabric is dry, repeat the steps.

Additional Tips for Removing Sticker Residue

There are a few rules you should follow for successful removal:

  • Don't wait: Act quickly to remove the sticker and treat the remaining residue.
  • Don't scrub: Treat upholstery fabric gently to prevent excessive wear to the fibers in the stained area.
  • Don't make the stain larger: Always work from the outside of the stained area toward the center of the stain to prevent it from spreading.
  • Don't attempt to clean the upholstery until you do some research about the type of material covering the furniture.